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  • Writer's pictureSonia Pings Rodriguez

Sometimes my thoughts come to me poetically

...


I’ve got my sights on the world and the way it could be

Visions of the future and what is owed to me.

Memories of ancestors and what they deserved.

How hard they fought to have me give up?

“This is enough because it’s all they asked for.”


But didn’t they plant seeds all around us and didn’t they say “Mira como crecen”?

They started dreaming and found a way to survive

But they told us survival is not the destination.

I was handed a snowball to roll down a mountain,

Safety to demand that the world acknowledge all the ones that paved the road for me

And how I will take it to the edge of the map and keep going past where their eyes could see.


I can’t be calmed or be settled when the blood of fighters flows through me,

When I embody a language and culture and soul that took everything imposed on us

And made it more beautiful by making it our own.

We will live equally or we will not stop climbing.

And soon our sheer number will silence your voices.


We were taught by our mothers and fathers to come and stand tall and

We will teach our children to conquer.

For so long all your ancestors have known is defend,

Hold the line, maintain the status quo.

But years of hard labor and emotional torment have toughened our skin and focused our minds.


My mother’s children will continue the fight that her father started and

My children’s children will know a life so far removed from the struggle

That they’ll roll their eyes at stories of how it once was.


Your history is written or don’t you hear what they say now

About those who dared to own people or erase entire cultures?

Your children will whisper “What were they thinking? I don’t understand.”

Until years down the line your family is rectifying your toxic impact

With contempt and disgust in their bones.

A line has been drawn in the sand and the choice needs to be made.


Stand with your ancestors and ooze with their hate or

Be heroes to your future descendants with my blood in their veins.

  • Writer's pictureSonia Pings Rodriguez

A whole hell of a lot actually.


To be honest, I don't know how to start this conversation because it's something that's simple and yet the repercussions are anything but. Think for a minute on the non white names you've come across. Think about the ones that you think you are pronouncing correctly but can't really be sure. Think about the ones that are shortened or anglicized to fit better on an English palate. Think about the ones that just aren't shared, where nicknames are given instead. Think about the ones that are only said by family while the world knows something "easier". Can you see the issue now?


A name can contain a culture, a language, a family's love. It is something that is intrinsically intertwined with your sense of identity. And yet we (those of us with these "problematic" names) choose over and over to let others push that piece of us aside. My mom shortens her name. My sister is used to her name being butchered. My other sister knows her middle name will be white-washed. I give my husband's name at restaurants. This is just how we live our lives at this point, and we're not the only ones.


I can't tell you how many times my name has been misspelled when it's only a line away on the signature for my emails. How many times I've corrected people on the pronunciation only to have it forgotten instantly. How many times I've exaggerated syllables to stress differences and been met with "I don't hear it." I can tell you that it's exhausting and it whittles you down and makes you question if it even matters. And I can tell you that sometimes my answer is a pained and tired no.


But I can also tell you how easy of a fix it could be. Because all we need is to commit a second more of our time or an ounce more of our respect. All we need to do is choose to care about someone else's name as much as our own. Because getting it perfect really does not matter, but trying is paramount.

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